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>> this is "the chris matthews show." >> ask not what your country can do for you -- >> headed down this way. >> i can hear you. >> the time for change has come. chris: staying the course with nine months until the fall elections. will president obama call full speed ahead or trim his sails. will he double down on change or reset his course towards full time job creation? will his fellow democrats give him a choice? keep on trucking. the republicans say it's time to work tether in the center. but will they do any such thing? will they keep saying no and ride this anti-incumbent whirlwind for all it's worth? and they say working class whites have pledged to support president obama in droves, could he lead the country if he can't win them back? welcome to the show.
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savannah guthrie co-hosts the daily rundown on msnbc. clarence page is a "chicago tribune" columnist. kathleen parker writes a column fo "the washington post" and david brooks is a "new york times" columnist and analyst on the newshour. first up,enator scott brown said the uprising in massachusetts will be catching in the fall's elections around the country. >> there's trouble in massachusetts but rest assured, there's trouble evewhere and they know it. chris: president obama told the news he had something in common with the guy that upset his entire apple cart in washington. >> the same thing that swept scott brown in office swept me in office. chris: the president went on saying the anger is left over from the bush years. >> people are angry and frustrated. not just because of what happened in the last year or two years but what's happened ov the last eight years. chris: but savannah, the polls in massachusetts say he was the target of the anger, the president. >> they're trying to put the
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best face on it and they want to show they get the message they're not totally deaf to what happened in massachusetts but their claims to this had nothing to do with health care or nothing to see here and really belied by the fact -- it's true scott brown never ran an ad about health care but he was signing autographs as 41, i'm the 41st vote against health care. if they can't pretend it has nothing to do with the obama agenda in washington. chris: you said the president made a big mistake coming in office, your comments, he should have re-established faith in positive government before going for the big health care kind of initiative. >> what's the biggest issue of our lifetime? it's that people used to trust government and the new deal and the great society. now like 17% of americans trust government and this distrust of government has been building and building and massachusetts is a phenomenon of that. and so the question befe the democrats is, do we listen to the people and say ok, we're scaling back, or do we say we really believe in our agenda, we don't care what you say, we believe in it so much we're
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going forward. that's the crucial decision. chris: it seems they don't trust the government to do things for you, it's not just get the roads plowed, it's a social program. >> they want to trust government. that's what the election of obama was about. they want to have a government that can do the basics for them. they don't want it to take over their lives but do the basics and provide security. the disillusion now comes from the lost hopes. chris: do you think the administration and the smart guys around the president, they especially misread his mandate and said they didn't like bush or cheney, so they're going to like a real liberal leftist government. >> they did misread it. the public basically -- david said his column moves in waves. it's not a massive shift. newt gingrich made that mistake thinking it was a revolution. clinton made the mistake early on and didn't even get health care to the floor. obama's team needed to read the public opinion more closely during the administration like they did during the campaign. there was a shift going on. there was a lot of disquiet out
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there. the people hate the sausage making process and they got more of it than the obama timetable had scheduled, especially in the august town hall meetings. and that's where they've got to scale back now and show they're -- chris: you surprised me, clarence. >> i surprise people a lot. i'm worth reading and watching, chris. >> first of all, barack obama had one mandate and that was to not be george w. bush. and he should have known from the clintons that any time you attack the left you go in the hole. he was elected by all of these republicans and liberalists because he was going to be a centrist leader and projected it on the campaign. chris: on things like health care didn't he have to do it? >> he didn't promise a 2,000 page bill nobody can comprehend. chris: the captain of the ship, this state of the union, he will be our captain and has to
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tell us what the course will be, is it left, center-left, where do you aim the country? >> where do you put jobs on the spectrum because that's what we'll hear about. we'll hear about jobsnd the deficit. he wants to convey an image of being serious about the deficit. they know that's what independents are very concerned about. he'll talk about health care. but they're in a real conundrum right now. you talk to senior aides and they don't know how this will end. can the bill pass the senate bill as-is and their big comprehensive bill live to see another day? or does it die and they have to do something piecemeal which is hard to do. chris: will the republicans help him or join him in the middle? >> no. the president came out and talked to george stephanopolous and showed part of the interview and said, i'm looking for common ground. he went to the hill in search of republicans for common ground. maybe little pebbles. but there's no there there for a bipartisanship approach
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unless they throw it to the states. if they say health care, we're going to throw it to the states. massachusetts, you did what you want, arizona, you do what you want. i think that's a plausible way forward. other than that i've become increasingly convinced if they go forward right now, the chance of getting any health care significant is like 20%. the chaos on the hill is unimaginable right now. >> well, i think he's got to make the effort. i think you call the republican's bluff. you guys want to confer, you got ideas, let's talk about it. then if they smack you down, you can say hey, we tried. i think that's where -- chris: you would offer something more than the big thing he offered on health care and see if they say yes or no? >> find some common ground. there's half a dozen bills the republicans have thrown aside. pick them up again and talk. >> start dating senator snowe in earnest. they left her out of some important meetings. chris: something big happened in massachusetts, that
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symbolism of something that's not establishment, the tea party people take credit for the victory in massachusetts. it's a tea party movement, i think it is a movement, how will it lead the country in a different direction than good old republican leadership thinking in washington? >> it's kind of interesting because the people i talked to on the hill, republicans behind the scenes, sort of don't kind of know who these tea party people are, it really is sort of separate from establishment washington. >> you're going to have a big problem if you try to speak o the tea party movement as though it's a solid movement. that's part of the beauty of it. it's one of those -- it reminds me of the book about the spider versus the star fish. there's a lot of pieces out there. you can cut off one and each one is going to start something. chris: you're an expert on this sociological phenomenon here. i think i know but you're the experts, they don't seem to be rank and file republican types and don't wear the badge of republican, who are they? >> if i had to generalize, people in this country with
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high school degrees lived the same lives of those with college degrees. that's no longer true, divorce rates, attitudes towards society and government, it's very different, college degree, noncollege degree. chris: who has the most divorces? >> high school grads, twice as many as college graduates. you look at who is running american and who is running it, harvard degrees and college degrees, that's not my life, and they're not listen. chris: guy with a law degree, even by driving a truck he was able to side with them. >> yeah, it's a signal. tom wolfe had this rule of a high school opposite. who do you vote for in politics? in high school you find your opposite and vote against them. if you hate the football players, all through life you're going to vote against the football players. you like the art people, you'll vote for the art people. >> and their perception elite washington and everybody in washington is considered an elite, their perception is they
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don't get them is not off. chris: we put it to the matthews meter, 12 of our regulars, can democrats neutralize this and slow down this attitude in time for the big november elections? whoa, eight say no they can't do it in time and the midterms, four say yes. all three are in the meter and three say too late, baby. clarence? >> they can have an impact but no, the horse is headed out of the stable already and historical trends and current trends, they'll take their losses and all they can do is cut the losses as they can try. chris: can the president turn it around with the big attack on the banks and going after the courts and corporate money in politics, can he become part of this populist anger, is he too late? >> it feel as little condrived but this is the low-hanging fruit that's out there on your matthews meter but i would say it's hard for democrats to turn it around and that's because unemployment is not expected to go to single digits by the end of next year. chris: the short term is his best bet to go after the bank
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and rich guys on wall street? >> i think that's good strategy they are pursuing, no question about it. >> mr. harvard law school, he's not an authentic huey long and you can't fake it in politics. mitt romney tried. i would advise him not to try to fake it. chris: will he go to the center politically between now and the elections? >> i think so. >> yes, i think he will. >> i think he will, yes. >> he'll go to jobs which is a gr issue. chris: before we break, losing to scott brown it seemed martha coakley made every mistake in the book and might have made enough mistakes to fill a sequel. but her worst mistake had to be the one that she told regular people she lived in a different universe. she stumbled in an amazing unforced error, not even knowing red sox hero curt schilling, a guy worshiped in boston. listen to her response when a radio host said schilling was working for scott brown, the republican. >> scott brown hired curt schilling. >> another yankee fan? >> yes. >> schilling himself drove it home. for me it just confirmed the
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things i had read up and heard about her which was that she is very out of touch with her constituents. chris: why coakley wasn't the first big candidate to blow a sports reference and ted kennedy did it in 1998 when he was comparing clinton and gore to that year's baseball heroes. >> it is a special pleasure for me to introduce our two home run teams for wking families in america, mike mcgwire and sammy souser of the white house. >> you can tell he is a rabid red sox fan, if you catch my drift. chris: bob dole in 1996 showing he might have been living in the past. >> i'm going to be like normal, i'm going to pitch a no-hitter from now to november 5, the brook line of scrimmage dodgers had a no-hitter last night and i'm following what nomo did and we're going to wipe them out between now and november 5. chris: that was in 1996, the dodgers left brooklyn in 1957.
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in a presidential race it was an issue. john kerry in the 2004 race blowing the name of the celebrated, almost holy home-field of the green bay packers, lambeau field. >> indifference to lambert field and vince and i quoted it a few times i've got to go to this packer fan here. chris: boy did w leap on that when he campaigned in wisconsin a week later. >> it's traditional when politicians come to your state that they talk about the packers and i understand my opponent did it the other day and he even mentioned the legendary stadium in green bay. listen, i've got some advice for him, if someone offers you a cheesehead, don't say you want some wine. just put it on your head and take a seat at lambeau field. chris: when we come back, what working class whites
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disproportionately disapprove of barack obama far more than other presidents at this point in their terms. can president obama regain his split footing without them?
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chris: welcome back. barack obama is down in the polls and a huge reason for that is he's slipped dramatically with whites. here's a couple different ways of looking at it. the graph in "the new york times" shows the level of support among whites for all our recent presidents at the end of their first year in office. the blue bar shows disapproval among whites. obama's ratings with whites are worse than other presidents at the same points in their terms. let's look at how working class whites have changed their view of barack obama since his inauguration. negative feelings about obama
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personally among working class whites have risen from 23% a year ago to 42%, almost doubling. today another index, job approval. 54% of working class whites approved of the president's handling of his job a year ago and that's now down to 39%. david, what's it about? >> i don't think it's simply racism because they were for him at inauguration time and haven't simply become racist since then. i think it's policy. what they were looking from obama is a set of policies deliverable to a set of associations and he's like me, knows me and they've become disappointed like that. to me the interesting thing is african-americans still remain very -- they approve of barack obama and latinos, also. so the latino numbers have barely moved. that's a sign of some deep sense of affiliation that's not policy based but for a lot of the white working class is more policy based. chris: you think that is elite cities him, is it the sense he's a little too polished and above the sweat of the poor, if you will? >> that's part of it. part of it is personal
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connection. i think blacks and latinos have obvious reasons to connect with him on that kind of personal level. white mails in particular, they had to be won over late. and they were won over at a time when john mccain showed himself not to be as effective in dealing with the economic crisis that was appearing. also, there was a sense about sarah palin and the confidence in office. chris: the case in cambridge with the cop and professor hurt him in that regard? >> that was one of those episodes he came down on the wrong side, like a lot of law and order white voters are concerned. that about barack obama being too aloof, too removed and he admitted it in his interview with george stephopolous. chris: at the white house do they talk about it, the staff people? >> no. they dispute the premise. you can look at it through the prism of race but look at it through a lot of independents.
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other than the gates episode, i can't think of another episode where obama reached out to get into a racially continuinged subject. in fact he kind of avortely avoided that. this is a loss of independence driven by policy, as david said. and also, the working class whites, a lot of people are out of jobs right now. but also whites -- independents are predominantly white. i don't know where whether that would be a confounding factor in this study, whether the whites shifting away are the independents shifting away. >> the whites in our poll said they personally liked obama. chris: is it a tougher attitude of white voters towards black politicians, give them the first shot but they're very quick to judge them? >> like in the 1980's, for example, or in philadelphia -- chris: they turn on you quickly. >> that's part of the game, though, whether it's race or some other -- like david said, you know, white voters came over to obama in much greater numbers than i expected and a
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lot of other people expected. i don't think the race factor is that big overtly. however, at the same time, there is the town hall episodes, the tea party movement. there is a lot of tribalism involved there, not overwhelming. but it's there. you can see it in the signs and this kind of thing. chris: the final question, if we get the unemployment rate down to 7% like reagan did in 1984 where he turned this part of the country around, the white working class, the independents, whatever you call them. >> if he can produce jobs he'll have a whole bunch of the country with him. chris: can he turn it around? >> you bring jobs back, yeah, you turn it around. >> i think that is the whole argument, whether he can bring jobs back. if he does, everybody is in love again. >> yeah. >> i actually disagree with kathleen. i think it's partly jobs and partly washington. they don't trust washington. its centralizing power that turned people off along with unemployment. chris: so clinton would have the same problem? >> yes. chris: when we come back,
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scoops and predictions of the notebooks of these top reporters. tell me something i don't know.
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chris: welcome back. savannah, tell me something. >> when ted geithner had dinner with bank executives this week, people in the room were surprised the bank executives didn't read about the bank tax. they don't love it and aren't fighting tooth and nail but if that's a way to get tarp behind them, they're happy about it. chris: clarence? >> the subject in nashville, it's causing a split, the tea party movement. they say the money will be poured back. sarah palin is there and says her money is going to contributions which she'll do that in 2000 -- 2010. chris: corruption creeps in. >> countermovements are forming. >> a talk of democrats
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switching over and changing parties. chris: you were right about this last time. >> i am still right. i know of a governor very close. chris: who is that? >> no fun but i can't tell you. >> thursday house democrats had a big meeting. gene taylor of mississippi gets up and says africa trampolinea i had to go to people your house is gone, i tell my constituents your house is gone, now i'm telling you, madam speaker, your house is gone and he's talking about health care and that was the dramatic speech. chris: you mean the house should be out of office? >> he meant the health care bill. chris: when we come back, the question of the week, scott brown said he won on terrorism, is had a what republicans are hoping to win with i
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>> closed captioning provided by -- chris: welcome back. scott brown of massachusetts ran against health care but said this tuesday night -- >> a message we need to send in dealing with terrorists, our tax dollars, our tax dollars should pay for weapons to stop them and not lawyers to defend them. chris: and when he appeared the next morning on "the today show" notice the order in which he listed the issuess. >> terror and taxes in the health care plan. chris: our big question this week, is this a tip-off republicans are going back to the bush-cheney playbook of
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2002 and hope to gain major traction against democrats on this issue of fighting terrorism? savannah? >> i think this is a weak spot for obama and our poll bore that out. people don't feel accused terrorists should have legal rights. so in some ways obama is out of the mainstream on that issue but they approve how he's handling terrorism so there's a disconnect. chris: clarence? >> when you're in trouble go back to the old reliables for republicans right now, taxes and terror are still strong issues for them. chris: kathleen? terror an issue for them? >> i think it's a huge issue. most americans certainly on the right disapprove strongly of obama endorsing this bringing -- treating these people as common criminals rather than terrorists. that's hige. -- that's huge. >> bouncing back to you, you said the republicans are the daddy party and democrats the mommy party. obama has done a good job on terror overall but it's tough to change the old stereotypes. chris: thanks for the great roundtable. that's the show. thanks for watching. see you here next week.
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The Chris Matthews Show
NBC January 24, 2010 10:00am-10:30am EST

News/Business. (2010) New. (CC)

TOPIC FREQUENCY Massachusetts 9, Washington 9, Scott Brown 8, Clarence 5, Savannah 4, Barack Obama 2, Kathleen 2, Obama 2, Clinton 2, Sarah Palin 2, John Kerry 1, Vince 1, Sammy Souser 1, Lambert 1, Taylor 1, Newt Gingrich 1, George W. Bush 1, David Brooks 1, Martha Coakley 1, John Mccain 1
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